President of the Senate (Australia)
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The position is provided for by Section 17 of the Constitution of Australia. The Senate elects one of its members as president at the start of each new term, or whenever the position is vacant. This is usually—though not necessarily—a member of the party or coalition that holds the most seats in the Senate. The largest party in the Senate is not always the governing party, as government is determined by the House of Representatives. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives may consequently be from different parties.
The President of the Senate's primary task is to maintain parliamentary procedure in the chamber during legislative sessions. Unlike the Speaker of the House, he or she votes as an ordinary member during general debate, and has no casting vote in the case of a tie. The President of Senate has also various administrative and ceremonial duties, sharing responsibility for the management of Parliament House and other parliamentary facilities and services with the Speaker of the House.
The Senate shall, before proceeding to the despatch of any other business, choose a senator to be the President of the Senate; and as often as the office of President becomes vacant the Senate shall again choose a senator to be the President. The President shall cease to hold his office if he ceases to be a senator. He may be removed from office by a vote of the Senate, or he may resign his office or his seat by writing addressed to the Governor-General.
The President is elected by the Senate in a secret ballot. The Clerk conducts the election. The Presidency has always been a partisan office and the nominee of the government party has nearly always been elected—although this cannot be guaranteed since the government of the day does not necessarily have a majority in the Senate. The President is assisted by an elected Deputy President. The traditional practice has been that the government nominates a Senator to be elected as President, and the Opposition nominates a Senator to be Deputy President. If there are no other nominations, no election is required, however the Australian Greens in 2005 and again in 2007 put forward Senator Kerry Nettle as a rival candidate when the position of President was vacant. Neither Government nor Opposition Senators supported that candidacy.
The President's principal duty is to preside over the Senate, to maintain order in the Senate, uphold the Standing Orders (rules of procedure) and protect the rights of backbench Senators. He or she is assisted by the Deputy President and a panel of Acting Deputy presidents, who usually preside during routine debates.
Although the President does not have the same degree of disciplinary power as the Speaker does, the Senate is not as rowdy as most Australian legislative chambers, and thus his or her disciplinary powers are seldom exercised.
Unlike the Speaker the President has a deliberative, but not a casting vote (in the event of an equality of votes, the motion fails). This is because the Senate is in theory a states' house, and depriving the President of a deliberative vote would have robbed one of the states or territories one of its Senators' votes.
The senate president is the chief executive of the Department of the Senate, which is one of the four parliamentary departments. He or she chairs the department's budget committee and oversees its organisational structure. The president also co-administers the Department of Parliament Services (DPS) with the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The President of the Senate is ranked highly in the Commonwealth Table of Precedence, either before or after the Speaker of the House of Representatives depending on seniority. He or she participates in the state opening of parliament, represents the parliament on overseas visits, and receives visiting delegations from other countries (and other distinguished visitors).
As with all other parliamentarians, the President of the Senate's salary is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal, an independent statutory body. As of 1 July 2019, the base salary for senators is A$211,242. The President is entitled to an additional "salary of office" comprising 75% of the base salary ($158,432), making for a total salary of $369,674 per annum. He or she also receives the various other entitlements and allowances available to senators.
List of Presidents of the Senate
The position of President of the Senate has been disproportionately held by Senators representing the least populous states and territories. There have been 25 presidents of the Senate since 1901. Of these 15 have come from the least populous states (Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania) or the Australian Capital Territory, and 10 have come from the three most populous states (New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland). All senate presidents have been members of major parties, though not necessarily the governing party.
|#||Name||Party||State||Term start||Term end|
|1||Sir Richard Baker||Free Trade||South Australia||9 May 1901||31 December 1906|
|2||(Sir) Albert Gould||Free Trade /
|New South Wales||20 February 1907||30 June 1910|
|3||Harry Turley||Labor||Queensland||1 July 1910||8 July 1913|
|4||Thomas Givens||Labor||Queensland||9 July 1913||30 June 1926|
|5||Sir John Newlands||Nationalist||South Australia||1 July 1926||13 August 1929|
|6||Walter Kingsmill||Nationalist||Western Australia||14 August 1929||30 August 1932|
|7||Patrick Lynch||United Australia||Western Australia||31 August 1932||30 June 1938|
|8||John Hayes||United Australia||Tasmania||1 July 1938||30 June 1941|
|9||James Cunningham||Labor||Western Australia||1 July 1941||4 July 1943|
|10||Gordon Brown||Labor||Queensland||23 September 1943||19 March 1951|
|11||Ted Mattner||Liberal||South Australia||12 June 1951||7 September 1953|
|12||(Sir) Alister McMullin||Liberal||New South Wales||8 September 1953||30 June 1971|
|13||Sir Magnus Cormack||Liberal||Victoria||17 August 1971||11 April 1974|
|14||Justin O'Byrne||Labor||Tasmania||9 July 1974||11 November 1975|
|15||(Sir) Condor Laucke||Liberal||South Australia||17 February 1976||30 June 1981|
|16||(Sir) Harold Young||Liberal||South Australia||18 August 1981||4 February 1983|
|17||Doug McClelland||Labor||New South Wales||21 April 1983||23 January 1987|
|18||Kerry Sibraa||Labor||New South Wales||17 February 1987||31 January 1994|
|19||Michael Beahan||Labor||Western Australia||1 February 1994||30 June 1996|
|20||Margaret Reid||Liberal||ACT||20 August 1996||18 August 2002|
|21||Paul Calvert||Liberal||Tasmania||19 August 2002||14 August 2007|
|22||Alan Ferguson||Liberal||South Australia||14 August 2007||25 August 2008|
|23||John Hogg||Labor||Queensland||26 August 2008||30 June 2014|
|24||Stephen Parry||Liberal||Tasmania||7 July 2014||2 November 2017|
|25||Scott Ryan||Liberal||Victoria||13 November 2017||Incumbent|
As well as a president, the Senate also elects a Deputy President, whose formal title is Deputy President and Chairman of Committees. Until 1981, the title was just Chairman of Committees; it was changed "to reflect more accurately the nature of the office in practice". The position is not provided for by the constitution, but instead by the Senate's standing orders – it was borrowed more or less directly from the colonial legislative councils. The deputy president's main tasks are to preside over committees of the whole and to serve as presiding officer when the President of the Senate is absent.
There have been 36 Deputy Presidents of the Senate, two of whom served multiple non-consecutive terms.
|#||Name||Party||State||Term start||Term end|
|1||Robert Best||Protectionist||Victoria||9 May 1901||31 December 1903|
|2||William Higgs||Labor||Queensland||16 March 1904||31 December 1906|
|3||George Pearce||Labor||Western Australia||21 February 1907||13 November 1908|
|4||Henry Dobson||Anti-Socialist||Tasmania||25 November 1908||30 June 1910|
|5||David O'Keefe||Labor||Tasmania||1 July 1910||30 July 1914|
|6||George Henderson||Labor||Western Australia||9 October 1914||30 June 1917|
|7||John Shannon||Nationalist||South Australia||12 July 1917||30 June 1920|
|8||Thomas Bakhap||Nationalist||Tasmania||21 July 1920||30 June 1923|
|9||John Newlands||Nationalist||South Australia||5 July 1923||30 June 1926|
|10||William Plain||Nationalist||Victoria||1 July 1926||30 June 1932|
|11||Herbert Hays||United Australia||Tasmania||1 September 1932||23 September 1935|
|12||Burford Sampson||United Australia||Tasmania||24 September 1935||30 June 1938|
|13||James McLachlan||United Australia||South Australia||1 July 1938||30 June 1941|
|14||Gordon Brown||Labor||Queensland||1 July 1941||22 September 1943|
|15||Ben Courtice||Labor||Queensland||23 September 1943||1 November 1946|
|16||Theo Nicholls||Labor||South Australia||6 November 1946||19 March 1951|
|17||George Rankin||Country||Victoria||12 June 1951||30 June 1953|
|18||Albert Reid||Country||New South Wales||8 September 1953||22 May 1962†|
|19||Gerald McKellar||Country||New South Wales||7 August 1962||21 December 1964|
|20||Tom Drake-Brockman||Country||Western Australia||16 March 1965||11 November 1969|
|21||Tom Bull||Country||New South Wales||25 November 1969||30 June 1971|
|22||Edgar Prowse||Country||Western Australia||17 August 1971||31 December 1973|
|23||James Webster||Country /
|Victoria||5 March 1974||21 December 1975|
|Tom Drake-Brockman||National Country||Western Australia||17 February 1976||30 June 1978|
|24||Douglas Scott||National Country||New South Wales||15 August 1978||10 December 1979|
|25||Ron Maunsell||National Country||Queensland||19 February 1980||30 June 1981|
|26||Doug McClelland||Labor||New South Wales||20 August 1981||4 February 1983|
|27||David Hamer||Liberal||Victoria||21 April 1983||30 June 1990|
|28||Mal Colston||Labor||Queensland||21 August 1990||16 August 1993|
|29||Noel Crichton-Browne||Liberal||Western Australia||17 August 1993||9 May 1995|
|30||Margaret Reid||Liberal||ACT||9 May 1995||20 August 1996|
|Mal Colston||Independent||Queensland||20 August 1996||6 May 1997|
|31||Sue West||Labor||New South Wales||6 May 1997||30 June 2002|
|32||John Hogg||Labor||Queensland||19 August 2002||25 August 2008|
|33||Alan Ferguson||Liberal||South Australia||26 August 2008||30 June 2011|
|34||Stephen Parry||Liberal||Tasmania||4 July 2011||6 July 2014|
|35||Gavin Marshall||Labor||Victoria||7 July 2014||9 May 2016|
|36||Sue Lines||Labor||Western Australia||30 September 2016||Incumbent|
- COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION ACT - SECT 17
- Senate Debates, 9 August 2005; 14 August 2007. In 2019 the Australian Greens again put forward another rival candidate
- Senate Briefs: No. 6 - The President of the Senate, Parliament of Australia.
- Senators' entitlements including remuneration, Parliament of Australia.
- ANNOTATED STANDING ORDERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN SENATE Chapter 3 - Deputy President and Chairman of Committees: 9 Term of Office, Parliament of Australia.
- ANNOTATED STANDING ORDERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN SENATE Chapter 3 - Deputy President and Chairman of Committees: 11 Duty of Chairman, Parliament of Australia.
- ANNOTATED STANDING ORDERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN SENATE Chapter 3 - Deputy President and Chairman of Committees: 13 Absence of President, Parliament of Australia.
- "Appendix 3―Deputy Presidents and Chairmen of Committees (1901–2009)". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
- The President of the Senate, Senate Brief No 6, March 2017